Tag Archives: philosophy

the captain has turned on the think for yourself sign, please remain present with your intellect securely fastened

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i’m lost this morning, trying to find a simple and novel idea for arranging a few hundred words. my head is thick with morning fog and a packing list. i wish i could wait and leisurely stroll through some words in a few hours when i’m less pressed and of wider eyes. but in a couple of those hours, i should be talking to an airport bloody mary and prepping for a midday miami flight. i suppose i could be so savvy as to post from airport bars and hot spots, but i have a romantic relationship with remaining somewhat unplugged during transit. it’s a stretch for me to listen to my ipod on a plane anymore…only because i romantically hold on to the “out of pocket” notion previously associated with airline travel. my ipod usually just makes the cut, harkening back to romantic days spent snuggling my sports walkman and its boatloads of extra batteries.

how long ago did they start to allow wireless connections on flights? how long ago did the ubiquitous charging station begin to ensure we had little or no excuse to fall out of touch? the only reason i carry my laptop with me on a flight is because i don’t want it totaled in my checked luggage…i’ve never pulled it out in the air. when i fly, i write in paper journals, keep wireless switches not just off but out of sight and save my online work for later. i only read what i can wrap my little fingers around in my anachronistic ink-on-paper fantasy world.

but today, i could write a post, i suppose…observations of american tourist(er)s, jots of jokes, perceptions, ponderings…i could type away at pontifications on the noises, scents and breaths all around me…but once i embrace electrons there, in transit, i lose all my excuses for, among other things, why i will be working a less exciting assignment in my hotel room tonight instead of submitting it from american airspace today.

soon there will be no tunnel of time-to-myself, no mountain(s out of) range, no awkward passenger glances in 30 torturous seconds of elevator silence, no TSA or FAA or common decency rules regarding appropriate public communication levels and/or methods…even the “i was driving” excuse will someday fade. all of it will go the way of the busy signal, the endless no-one-is-home-ring, the answering machine, the “i couldn’t hear you yelling, mom” excuse…the best we’ve got now is, “funny, i didn’t get your voicemail until just now! i don’t know what’s wrong with my phone!” i pray that crossed communications never completely disappear. i hope that technology only gets so good at invasive contact. i hope that people will keep their expectations for instant, invasive contact at bay, while keeping with them an expectation of occasional privacy and sequestered personal time. i hope we remember to stay in our own shoes, pick up our heads and look around at what’s happening in our moment, in our worldview, in our ears, hearts and minds…i hope we remember to stop wondering what people we know are up to right this second and check out what the people we don’t know are doing right around us.

i sound like such a nostalgic dinosaur about all of this. perhaps this is the generational disease about which i will gripe and that i will treat with consternation, perturbation and the GenX equivalent of something my grandmother called liniment. oh my achin’ sentiments. we’ll see when the part of me that’s tempted always to play in this e-world overrides the part of me trying to hold on to romantic notions of unplugged solitude and delayed communications gratification.

meanwhile…i’m sure i’ll check this blog page once or twice from an airport bar seat…and my gmail account…and facebook…that’s the tempted part of me…unless i find an actual breathing human with which to dissect this trend or the MLB postseason…or pick up a gripping novel…or find a gripping, fluffy magazine through which to rifle…or some inspiration for poetry penned in blue ink, not a font…or a charging station seat and a few good tracks on my ipod. regardless, i’m off to the romantic world inside my head and suitcases for a while. i apologize in advance if you end up in my voicemail today…and one more time if i don’t return your calls or texts until friday, all while incredulously complaining about the undependability of even the smartest smartphone, and secretly lauding its ability to cover mine.

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3 hours of head-wound-packed cartoon action (…figuretrish)

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awright…this stopped being funny sometime several hours ago…like maybe 7-8 hours ago when i first woke from painful, craptastic sleep…except that i’m laughing now…about writing that it has stopped being funny. i’m chuckling quietly on the inside somewhere, with sarcastic cynicism bleeding out of my eye sockets.

here’s the rundown

spent the night to present wearing a collar of neck pain..a yoke even.

got a late start

cracked my head pretty good getting out of my car. as graceful as ever.

late to my appointment

…30 minutes of pleasant….

next…an hour and a half wait at the drugstore. i was one of maybe 5 people in the whole store. it went on and on as though it were perfectly normal for it to take that long to collect and label four whole, prepackaged medicines (not even transferred into pharmacy bottles). i did my best use my time well. i was pretty zen about it all, considering.

punted my work phone across the floor and into three pieces trying to answer a call while working at the drugstore

lost my actual nice pair of sunglasses in the store

killed 15 more minutes looking for them everywhere i’d shopped (which was everywhere) and letting my bag of dairy products wilt (found the shades, yay!)

was cut off by a minivan with 3 adult passengers toward the front, 3 kids in the 3rd row. they were leaving the library (that part’s novel…as in novelty…not…well…arggg, silly puns)…the guy totally saw me and took his right on red anyway (not cool)…it was a slam on the breaks event and i cleared my horn of any gunk or grime that may have built up over these many quiet months.

i stumbled in the front door awkwardly, stuff falling from bags…needing to pee like my 105lb race-lab…tried to throw my dairy in the fridge quickly and?…cracked my head on the freezer handle as i stood up.

scared the crap out of my 105lb race-lab wailing in pain and frustration while stomping up the stairs to my bathroom

got through this mayhem and sat down

…and now it’s almost 11am and time to get down to this actual day…throw up a blog post, then work an explosion of logistics to prepare myself for 5 unexpected weeks on and off (mostly on) the road teaching. i’m covering a schedule for a very sick employee and dear friend…my heart is with her, so saddened, even as my head tries to wrap itself around plans for childcare, petcare, homecare, selfcare, ticketcare, hotelcare, carcare….

egads.

i am the awkward action figure today…a gazelle on ice…with all the efficiency of wile e. coyote…and the grace of the three stooges. ok, i’m smiling again. time to throw on one of the many, many heat wrap pads i purchased during my sojourn at the drugstore and gets’ to carin’ about all that stuff needs ‘carin.  sigh.

holy pain in the chakra, batgirl

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ow. in my summer of joyous discontent, as i spout words and express my Self in what feels a bit like ecstasy, life has delivered me one serious pain in the neck. i am not speaking metaphorically. for two days now, my worldview is limited largely to whatever appears in front of me or to my right and what i can see through a veil of pain. i’d say that i slept wrong, except that it hit me in the middle of an evening, sitting upright, and became excruciating on a short drive home. i am sure there are many other medically sound ways to dismiss this physical affliction. ignoring it, much to my dismay, has been completely ineffective. i suppose i could just grab a bag of frozen peas and a bottle of something (alleve? bourbon? both?) or even drag myself to a doctor and beg for a neck relaxer or two.

but that would be so earthly of me. and i prefer earthy and spiritual to earthly and mundane, if for no other reason than it’s so much more interesting and mystical…and a way to fill the time spiritually while earthly muscles draw my attention away from what i see as productive things. so, symbolically, i seem to be struggling with my 5th chakra. (well, what in the….? but, but?) the 5th chakra is your throat chakra, responsible for communicating and translating between your 4th (heart) and 6th (mind) chakras. according to this ancient philosophy centered on the mind-body connection, problems with the 5th chakra relate to an inability or unwillingness to speak your truths, to express yourself honestly and fully. seriously? and if that’s not confusing enough for someone who’s finally dumping it all “out there,”  and expressing her skinny little ass off, in public, for the first time ever…i read that it’s possible to express too much, which also manifests as 5th chakra dysfunction. i also found an article just this morning claiming that my own “awakening” could be the source of my pain and dysfunction as my soul and body stretch and groan from fetal to languid to animated.

ok, i get it…the vagueries are there, the ones that allow virtually any spiritual analysis to explain my discomfort. i’m chasing the mystical while my mind soaks up science like a sponge…perhaps that is the disconnect between my heart and mind. perhaps this pain is meant to confuse me, force my search deeper…or just push my hands and energy toward meditation and exercise. perhaps this pain is telling me to get my head out of my…the clouds…and get back to the truth of my everyday life, my workaday world, my paycheck. perhaps it’s telling me to run from that life and embrace something else (that would be romantic of my pain, wouldn’t it?).

sigh. so for now, i’ll take this writer’s mind and heart, give them a rest, maybe move the truths around in my bloodstream for a while on my stationary bike, warm cranky neck muscles with my cycle ergometer, and see if a quiet reality check helps ease my discomfort and my discontent. even my joy tempered would likely bring some peace for a moment. i am in pensive pain…thoughtful…when perhaps mindful is better indicated. either way, i write from my “pain body” today, which clouds insight and furrows my brow. a full and outrageous life includes pain, some overkill and some quiet healing. perhaps my two year old’s kisses will ferry in the healing part…plus any cosmic hugs offered by a gentle reader out there. and if anyone wants to share, i’m accepting advice and Universal ice packs….

above breath grumbles from a Gen X loudmouth

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i’ve been seeing a lot of theory and discussion in the news and at professional events about dealing with “the Millenials,” the incorrigible, impatient, job-hopping, gadget wielding, full-grown children that make up something like 14% of the American work force. i saw a hilarious speaker at a conference in Denver and then saw him again, along with some other millenials and the consultants who explain them to the rest of us, on a re-run of 60 minutes last night in the witching hour of my insomnia. Jason Dorsey is a millenial himself, belly-laughing funny and fairly self-actualized among his peers. i think he and his ilk have a bit to learn about how life busts through our convenient constructs and post-adolescent worldviews to sharpen and hone our “insight.” and while he very well nails the characteristics of many generations, his focus is largely on bending our world to fit Gen Y’s sense of adventure and entitlement. i’m sure great things will come (have come) from the positive they bring to the grown up table….but right now, they’d still like us to cut their meat into bite sized pieces and congratulate them for proper use of their flintstones forks. and i say that with all due respect (they also believe they are due tremendous amounts of respect). these aren’t my bitter observations, i take this from their own descriptions of themselves.

i’m not here to write an indictment of the generation behind me…that would be so Gen X of me, according to mr. dorsey. i’m writing this morning as a gen x-er wondering what the hell happened to all of us? there are hardly any of us to begin with…we fall under a golf umbrella full of baby boomers, and float above a burgeoning bubble packed with as many Gen Y-ers. we are representatives of a baby bust that right now, has us (me) pouting like a middle child, feeling ignored, being ignored. even marketing tactics and campaign ads skip right over us…is it because we are such a small demographic? or because we are harder to reach and convince as a flock? because tapping into our individualism is harder than selling to sheep?

ok, to clarify, i’m not bitter enough (yet) to call everyone above and below me “sheeple.” (which would also very Gen X of me). i’m just ruminating on what “they’ve” named as the salient characteristics of my generation. my anecdotal experience as one of us among us relates back to many a crappy-east-village-apartment conversation, fueled by discontent, the birth of the latte and a boom and bust economy booming and busting every few years while we postured and positioned ourselves to change the world, or at least survive into our 30’s. most notably…we are resourceful, individualistic and mistrusting of authority. most of us came home from school to empty houses and two-income parents, or two homes with single income parents. we watched our politicians lie about arms sales and political maneuvers, and then wiggle themselves out of trouble with nothing but speeches full of plausible deniability. we heard them hawk some doublespeak called “trickle down economics” and watched rock ‘n’ roll bring down authoritarianism in Berlin and the Soviet Union.

we know how to work hard but we are judicious in our application of effort. we are the generation that coined the aphorism, “we work to live, we don’t live to work,” which has been and still is a mantra for me. we like flexibility and freedom, especially from micromanagement. we explore a lot of ideas, are very diverse and tolerant of different lifestyles. that all sounds great to me…i like us! except that we’ve been lost in a loud milieu of baby boomers and baby-faced millenials clamoring to secure what they feel are entitlements. as Gen X-ers, that means footing the Social Security bill for our boomers, on the backs of few laborers, and coddling the fragile egos and short attention spans of a huge wave of young adults ready to become our bosses…tomorrow. we are the last generation to believe we would have Social Security as part of a retirement deal, and the first generation to watch that promise fall apart. the millenials behind us have assumed all along that it won’t be there, and that they might not even pay into it very long as adults, while we’ve watched the cut come out of our paychecks since our first job at the mall. the Feds even sent us very official looking statements every year, tracking every dollar, and telling us how inadequate but helpful a sum we would garner from uncle sam in our lifetime of career-building and tax-paying.

how did we get here? i remember, way back in my dim apartment, as i went to and fro from a 9-5 job and most of my friends worked the social scene at Tower Records for their paychecks, i used to be accused of “going to work for the man.” later when i landed in civil service, i’d really crossed over to the darkside. i was frustrated, caught between the post-depression era, authority loving, well-ordered upbringing i experienced as the last of seven in a huge irish-catholic family, and my Gen-X urge to tell the boomers and above to bugger off. still, there was one concept that stuck in my craw…i preached about it then and see what i think are the unfortunate ramifications today…i’d say “don’t you want someone on the inside? if we refuse to deal with ‘the man’ won’t we just abdicate all of our control.” our disaffected affectations, our free-spirited wanderings have left us with little but our signature under-breath grumbling and a dearth of peers to admire. we spent the first 15 years of our careers waiting for the boomers’ 401ks to send them into well-funded retirements, leaving us a few of the reigns to take without much fight. we spend our time now still listening to indie music and wondering if they will ever retire and how we will fund them and their arthritis treatments when they do.

so are we going to die grumbling under our breaths in defiant support of our individuality? will we ever coalesce into a group loud enough to claim our position in a world of the boisterously entitled? will we languish as the middle children of a 20th century brood of pundits and lobbyists? i wish i knew how to move us, get us together, make us loud. we didn’t practice community, though we appreciate it. we were never promised wholeness…and we certainly eschew the herd mentality. so how do we make ourselves whole and he(a)rd? someone told me there is a revolution coming. i’ve been hearing that since before my first piercing. my generation substituted individual rebellion for revolution, found The White Album on vinyl and got tattoos accepted in the workplace. we rocked…but we rolled no heads.  if there is one legacy i know i will live and leave, it’s that i will keep rockin’…right into my rockin’ chair…the one the millenials design for me.

up the down stairway to heaven…a game of habits

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i will lament a little this morning about habits (not the kind that nuns wear…perhaps there is a nun blogger out there writing that post as i write mine…follow my tags and maybe you’ll find that one too). the whole concept of “habits” is entirely too complex. i mean, how complicated should it be? do new things that are good for you, stop some that are bad…pull it off with some consistency and call them habits. so why is it so haaarrrrrd?

habits to me seem like one of those God games…like women’s menstrual cycles or irony…like a drinking game or little kids’ game where every round, someone gets to add a new rule. God and SuperFriends sat around laughing their ethereal asses off, throwing in things like, “make the bad ones really hard to break!” and, “the easy ones all have to be bad.” and the sillier (or drunker) They got, the more esoteric and obtuse the rule:  “oh, oh! and make the good ones hard to notice…I mean, like where, like, the more good ones you make, the more bad ones you see!”

i’ve made a few good habits lately, and broken a few bad ones. i need to acknowledge that because all i see are the things i still haven’t managed to habitualize, and all of the patterns i maintain despite evidence that altering them would make me feel better in the long run. ug, and there it is…(one of) the problem(s) between habits and me. i don’t like long runs. in fact i hate them. the cross country races i had to run (slowly) in high school still haunt me like a phantom stitch in my side or ghost shin splints. i say “had to run” because it was considered “pre-season” soccer training. “hey people (coach!), there is a reason i’m a goalie!” my dad used to try to comfort me by telling me, “mastersons will get there, we just won’t get there first.” that was quite comforting, come to think of it.

i digress. my point is, i’ve noticed that bad habits seem to come with all of those wonderful things that bring instant gratification, while good habits inevitably involve “the long run.” and here’s a fun rule: most things that bring instant gratification will destroy you in the long run. ARG! so we spend all kinds of time trying to turn long-run oriented results into something that feels good now. “mmmm, i like these carrots better than chips ahoy rainbow cookies anyway.” that’s some joke. thanks Guys and Girls up there…i hope you are having a good time with this game, Someone should.

still, i have to play the game, or lose to sloth, indulgence, heart disease and/or a drug problem…or end up crippled from sports and fun my body is not prepared to withstand. so this morning i take some stock and look at some of the long run homers i’ve hit lately, to clear my vision and let me see progress that might motivate me to make more. so…the biggest? i quit smoking cigarettes (for the millionth and final time) more than two months ago. talk about easy to make and hilariously difficult to break! secondly, i’ve managed to habitualize keeping my home pretty tidy. thirdly…and now i’m stretching…um, let’s go with sleeping in my bed almost every night instead of the Couch of Even Crappier Sleep.

i have started one habit…not exactly easy to maintain…but that’s enjoyable and rewarding enough to beat the odds…it’s good now AND in the long run! it’s writing here, every day of the week except sunday. it takes some discipline. oh, how i hate that word, but in this case, its tactics are gentle. i don’t beat myself up over this habit…i don’t spend scads of time thinking up reasons to skip it before i decide to get to it (ahem…i’m talking about you, exercise!). i guess it’s easy for me to like it in the moment and let “the long run” benefits develop on their own. i have no end goal in mind when i write. (well, there is that pulitzer committee thing….).

i don’t know if i can maintain this habit. i don’t know if i can make other ones feel this good. i’ve heard rumors that they all get easier the closer you get to habitualization. (by the way, i’m fairly certain “habitualize” in all its forms is not actually a word…but i figure if i use it enough, it may become a linguistic habit across our lexicon…that’s me making up rules to my own games…hahaHA!). like i said, i’ve established some healthy habits lately, broken a few bad ones…but they are hard to see. i do see that i need to drink more water, eat healthier, drink less coffee, exercise more, walk my dog more, stop procrastinating on all the administrivia that haunts me, and meditate regularly (for more than a minute and a half).

for today though, i will try to enjoy all my new and shiny habits, and pat myself on the back for being here, for trying and for succeeding at lots of things…and for trying again when i fail. join me today…look at what you do well, for yourself and for others. shine a new light on your habits and find the good ones that keep you going everyday (if you see some bad ones you’d like to work on, that’s ok too). i think making a habit of appreciating yourself might just make this game fun(ner). i’m talkin’ fun for a girl and a boy…and though there is no victory, just “game over” at death,  i will still shake my hand at the sky and laugh every time my little slinky of a life continues its journey down the stairway to heaven…oh, wait…am i going the wrong way? ah well, it’s not the destination right? or did i just discover another twisted rule?

shiny up your gratitude and give it a display case, or “3 Things You Should Just Learn to Accept”

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so i decided to rest my aching muscles last night by moving furniture…swapping one heavy table at ground level for a large CD cabinet in a third floor walk-up. as two girls, attractive ones even, my best friend and i were unable to find anyone with arms and a back muscle or two to help us out. we’d been trying since november. we threatened to hire an anonymous odd jobs type guy (a.k.a. a craigslist killer) if someone didn’t step forward to offer some help…there were bribes involved…but no takers. the bribes offered were of the garden variety…beer, food…plus the guilt trip of maintaining our personal safety. perhaps lap dances would have garnered more enthusiasm, but based on the response crickets we heard tuning themselves for a long requiem, i’m not sure anyone but anonymous odd-jobs criminal guy would have taken the offer.

so i went with the ol’ “date a strong guy who likes you and hit him up for favors” trick. classic. and he still likes me, even though i forgot to mention the stairs/third floor walk-up part until just before our departure. i swear i forgot. and the truth is, he offered to help, and i accepted. it was that simple…except that accepting help is hard for me, and asking is damn near impossible. now that i’m on my own and defiantly independent, with a kid, a dog, two cats and a house full of stairs and heavy things, i’ve had a chance to flaunt my strength, and stomp around all satisfied, like my 2-year old, pointing at all the things i’ve done, “all by myself” (or in her words, “by Self!”).

yesterday i accepted help that was offered graciously, from someone who offers help regularly to friends and family all around him. i also remember friends, a funny and generous couple whom i’d only just met, who volunteered to spend a day painting my townhouse with me. i remember the humble gratitude i felt that day, just like the gratitude i felt last night admiring the freshly open spot where that table was, and the CD/OCD project i now have waiting for me in my basement. the truth is, we really do very little “by Self!” there is always some village, visible or invisible, helping us out.

this asking for help and accepting it thing is part of a skill set that i’ve been working on for a long time. these are skills i never learned at home. in fact, they were discouraged there, either intentionally or through the magic of guilt or through the subtle art of underminement. (that’s a term of art, my art, or maybe al gore said it first, ew). so here are three lessons on graciousness that i’ve reluctantly learned, and with serious difficulty, accepted as practice:

1) learn how to accept a compliment – don’t qualify it. i still do this more often that i’d like. it’s that “oh, this old thing?” mentality…the need to apologize for or downplay your role in presenting something worth complimenting. i read somewhere a long time ago, that the only thing you need to say in response to a real compliment is a real “well, thank you!” ex:  compliment – “you have a beautiful home,” response – “why, thank you!” vs. “oh, it’s a mess, i really need to clean it, do that one dish in the sink, ramble, ramble, ramble.”

2) learn to accept gifts – this includes allowing someone to pick up a check at lunch or dinner when they offer. i have an employee who has managed to pay the tab every time i’ve taken her out. it’s embarrassing to me, and discourages me from meeting her over a nice lunch instead of in the stuffy offices neither of us work in very often. learn to accept gifts and favors without guilt, without feeling like you now “owe” the giver something equivalent in value or effort. most of us know how to give without expecting anything in return. we also know it feels good. give friends and strangers a chance to feel good. again, a heartfelt, “well, thank you!” will do. an old fashioned thank you card is a nice touch…but these days, an email or any expression of gratitude will typically be enough to kick start a karma bus of goodness for you.

3) learn to accept and even ask for help from well-meaning, gentle souls. it might be a new boyfriend with moving muscles, a stranger in a grocery store parking lot (a well-lit and populated parking lot), a neighbor who spots a way to help you out, new friends with paint supplies, old friends with some spare change to lend to a dependable friend in need, or friends and family who want to support you when you struggle with emotional or physical health.

giving these things, compliments, gifts and help, makes people feel good. the act of giving freely feeds the Universal energies of generosity, Love and compassion. but to give freely, one needs a recipient. don’t just be a “giver,” it’s a subtle form of control if you give and never allow someone to give back. it’s a form of underminement, and it lacks the vulnerability, intimacy, and equality that comes from reciprocity. remember to open your heart and set aside your independence sometimes to actively “receive.” it’s ok and your gratitude is only the first gift you send back to the giver. Universal Love and joy will track them down and deliver more. and of course, never be a “taker.” we all know a few of them, and they dress themselves quite differently than “receivers.”

we are a generous and social species, especially when we let our best energy flow freely. open yourself to that energy and you will find myriad and effortless ways to give and receive that make the world (your world) spin a little more smoothly.

grace and the warm-ups…a live comedic event (yesterday)

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well, golfing badly yesterday was a blast…and i learned a couple of lessons, too. 1) trying to “be the ball” is not as effective or easy to implement as a simple “keep your eye on the ball” command. 2) it’s very disconcerting to unexpectedly dump your sordid history into a blog and make it public (see yesterday’s post if you must…or trust my assertion that i’ve hurt enough in one lifetime to offer a word or two of comfort). 3) it’s more disconcerting to realize that you can no longer pick up a sporting good and expect your body to function well when you do it as infrequently as i do. (it seemed to function alright…oh, how the pain lies in wait, conspiring with my alarm clock for a dastardly a.m. ambush.) 4) jumping from a swing into playground wood chips while wearing flip flops is sketchy at best, and a great opportunity to test your falling and rolling skills. (i still GOT ’em!)

so gimpy mcgracefulpants over here has an old person’s knee this morning, painfully tight hips and the shortest hamstrings i’ve had since my growth spurt. i guess it’s time to slow it down a little and prepare my body for all of this fun. i’m back to that balance thing…regular exercise has to fit on the beam somewhere, the kind of exercise that strengthens the core, loosens a low back and builds yet more capacity and capability in a heart so filled with gladness. (incidentally, i now have empirical evidence that gladness is not the same as oxygen.)

as with anything risky, it’s not very smart to assume that your body or mind will know what to do, or when to do it, without some warm-ups, without practice, without building up the strength you’ll need to finish with a flourish and a fan club…or if flourish and fan clubs aren’t your thing, how about simply finishing without major performance problems and pain?

i’m up early this morning, meeting some deadlines, but more importantly, putting in some practice at risky things. i’m preparing myself for life’s dangerous delights like writing my heart out and swinging things at balls (i’m still talking about sporting goods in case you’re confused). i’m sore, things hurt, and i’ve identified some weak spots…but how much fun am i having doing this? so much that it has to be worth the risk and the effort of trying, and worth the work it will take to live, Love and play as fluently as i imagine i can.

if i had a hot tub, i’d be in it. i do well in hot water and i have empirical evidence to support that…though i’d prefer the literal over the figurative this morning. so as i literally limp through this day, and a nice hot shower, i will figuratively warm my heart and these pages, and try again to beam with better balance…one day, one strain, one pain (in the ass) at a time.